Natural Ways to Induce Labor

Are you being pressured to have an artificial induction in the hospital? Here are some natural ways to induce labor from nipple stimulation to castor oil induction. These methods can be gentler than artificial labor induction with pitocin.

A CAVEAT: I actually do not recommend inducing labor whether it is with pitocin, cervical ripening gels, or with natural ways to induce labor.

All babies take different amounts of time to develop before they are ready to be born. Let nature take its course. You would never force a rose bud to open or a baby chick to hatch--so too, let your baby and your body work in their own time.

The more we intervene in the birth process the more potential problems can occur.

For more information, read this article on the risks of labor induction.

Let your baby decide his or her own birth day.

That said, I know that many women are pressured to go into the hospital to be induced. You may wish to avoid a more difficult labor and the possible cascade of interventions and the complications that commonly occur with artificial labor induction.

Rarely, there might be a true medical indication that necessitates that baby be born sooner rather than later.

It is for these mothers that I offer these natural ways to induce labor.


Give your baby all the time he or she needs to develop.

Least to most invasive natural ways to induce labor

Releasing stress--stress slows and/or stops labor. So it certainly makes sense that if you feel afraid, unready, or if something in your birthing environment is not right, your body will hold onto that baby and keep labor from starting.

Maybe you need to talk with a friend, your partner, or a therapist and/or take steps to resolve any issues that are bothering you.

Prayer,meditation, or repeating affirmations are all good stress relievers.

I have known women who did not go into labor until just after well-meaning friends or mother-in-laws left after an extended visit. Keep in mind how you may be affected by family that is visiting and waiting for baby to be born.

I really benefited by using the affirmations that are part of the Hypnobirthing childbirth preparation course.

A few of these affirmations are, "I am focused on a smooth easy birth", " I trust my body knows what to do", and " I see my baby coming smoothly from my womb."

I also needed to create affirmations surrounding my financial situation so that I could release fear around those issues. You may need to create your own affirmations for your unique situation.

You might want to take a look at Shakti Gawain's book Creative Visualization for help in this process.

Visualization--I used the Hypnobirthing relaxation and visualization scripts to help me relax and prepare for a smooth birth. This was one of the best things that I did to prepare for my baby's birth.

You can use any visualization method with which you are familiar. Alternatively, you can simply sit quietly inhaling to a count of four and exhaling to a count of four while repeating a simple mantra such as "love" "peace" or "baby".

Sexual intercourse--The prostaglandins contained in semen help to soften the cervix which can sometimes help start labor and kick start contractions. I will say (blushing)that this was certainly the case with my labor.

Orgasm--with or without intercourse causes the oxytocin to flow which causes the uterus to contract.

Nipple stimulation--again also causes oxytocin to flow.

Foods--some people say that certain foods bring on labor. I don't know if this is simply an old wives tale, but this is one that certainly can't hurt to try! Spicy and salty foods are usually recommended.

I've heard that the saltiness of ham and scalloped potatoes brings on labor.

Scalini's Italian restaurant in Georgia guarantees their eggplant parmigiana will put a woman into labor. If labor doesn't occur within 48 hours of eating the meal, you get a gift certificate for another try!

Acupressure/acupuncture--there are certain points on the hands, feet and ankles that can (if pressed continuously and repeatedly or stimulated by acupuncture needles) bring on contractions. This can be done by a professional acupuncturist or you can do the acupressure yourself.

One point is the part of your hand between the thumb and the first finger. Another point is located about three finger widths above the inside of you ankle bone right behind your shin bone.

These acupressure points are often tender to the touch.

Chiropractic--helps align your spine and pelvis to enable baby to settle in to a more optimal position to be born.

Yoga poses such as downward dog, hands and knees positions, pelvic tilts, walking, and swimming can also help baby to be in a more favorable position. Sometimes a better position is all baby was waiting for.

Herbs--The herbs Blue and Black Cohosh are often recommended to start labor. You can get quality herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs. It is possible for these herbs to cause potentially dangerous side effects. Please consult a qualified herbalist before deciding to take these.

I would also recommend reading Susan Weed's book Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year (Wise Woman Herbal Series, Book 1) (Wise Woman Herbal Series : No. 1) Castor oil--Castor oil induction is often recommended by midwives as one of the natural ways to induce labor, but it is not something I would recommend.

Common reports are that it gives you terrible stomach cramps,diarrhea, and sometimes vomiting. Possible side effects are dehydration in the mother, and passage of meconium by the baby (what you take does affect the baby),as well as possibly stronger contractions than you would have otherwise had.

I reiterate that it is important to give your baby all the time he or she needs. You won't be pregnant forever! Enjoy this time with baby on the inside while you can... and JUST SAY NO to artificial labor induction...

it's your body, your baby, your decision.

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